Art Basel

Your guide to the flagship Swiss fair

Art Basel, the world’s premier art fair, is returning this week despite myriad challenges thrown up by the global pandemic. Having stepped up its digital game during the health crisis, the fair is now offering a ramped up virtual experience for all those whose travel plans have been hampered by red lists, vaccines, or quarantines. So, whether you’re attending Art Basel in person or vicariously, we’re here to bring you the most up-to-date sales, trends, and analysis. We'll be updating this guide every day, so be sure to keep checking in!

Morning briefing

Everything you need to know ahead of the VIP opening of the Swiss fair
Thursday, 30 September




Wednesday, 29 September




Tuesday, 28 September




Art Basel 2021: it’s good to be back—but things are going to change, dealers say
Main news

Art Basel 2021: it’s good to be back—but things are going to change, dealers say

Despite the success of the fair's first post-pandemic edition, galleries are weighing up the future
Read more

Podcast | Art Basel: are the buyers back?

Plus, Mary Beard on images of power, and Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped

From a near collision with a tram to the week's hottest parties: what went down at Art Basel 2021

The legacy of Joseph Beuys on his 100th birthday

Marina Abramović is one of many contemporary artists who have paid tribute to Joseph Beuys—alongside Ai Weiwei, Olafur Eliasson, Christoph Schlingensief and Matthew Barney, to name just a handful.

In 2005, Abramović re-enacted his performance work How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. She said she wanted to remind a younger public of the “immensity” of Beuys’s work. “I think they are starting to forget,” she said. “But we can’t forget. Everything is going in cycles in art.”

Beuys, who would have turned 100 this year, is often mentioned in the same breath as Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol as a towering figure of the 20th century. His relic-like sculptures in felt, fat and wax are not as consumer-friendly and accessible as Warhol’s upbeat Marilyns and beans. But in our current era of social and environmental upheaval, Beuys’s ability to cross the borders between art and politics make him perhaps more relevant and exciting. Abramović’s “cycles of art” are rotating Beuys back into the foreground.


Korakrit Arunanondchai: on loss, shamanism—and denim

It is hard to categorise the work of the artist Korakrit Arunanondchai, who says his most important materials are time and history. Often described as following the concept of the gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art), Arunanondchai uses everything from video, sculpture, performance, music and painting—often using denim for canvas—to create super-sensory shamanic-like experiences that question the limits of this world and the possibility of an afterlife.

Born in Thailand, Arunanondchai splits his time between Bangkok and New York, though he was caught in Thailand during the pandemic, where he spent the year developing his painting and working on two new videos, which are now on show at the Migros Museum in Zurich—the artist’s first solo institutional exhibition in Switzerland. You can also find Arunanondchai’s work on Carlos/Ishikawa’s stand at Art Basel.

Collector's Eye

Bruno Bolfo

The collector tells us what he has bought and why
Exhibition preview

Portraits by women are unmasked
at the Beyeler Foundation

Close-Up charts the evolution of portraiture from 1870 to the present through the work of nine female artists, from Berthe Morisot to Elizabeth Peyton


Women in the arts are winning the battle for equal employment—but they haven’t yet won the war


Marc Spiegler: “You can either dance in the rain or wait for the storm to stop”

Marc Spiegler, the global director of Art Basel, has just listened to an episode of the Ezra Klein podcast, on the extended mind. “It’s about how humans are trained to think not in a linear, static way, but in a moving, physical way. It’s about learning to take notice of what we call intuition or gut feelings, and reading body signals as cues when interacting with others. The way your mind works differently when you’re walking as opposed to when you’re sitting.”

Is Zurich the new Basel?

Competition between Zurich, one of Europe’s most important banking hubs, and Basel, the home of pharmaceutical giants, has traditionally been fierce. Passions run high when their two football teams, FC Zurich and FC Basel, meet on the pitch.

Until now, Basel has had the edge as a destination for art lovers. But Zurich is playing catch up—and will soon be home to the biggest art museum in Switzerland. On 9 October, a major new extension to the Kunsthaus Zurich, built by the British architect David Chipperfield at a cost of SFr206m ($223m), will open to the public.


Philippe Parreno gets up close with Goya in new video work at the Beyeler

Philippe Parreno is a master of exhibition making. Ever since he emerged in the 1990s, the French-Algerian artist has used the spaces he shows in and the immediate environment around them as an active presence in his work. Architectural elements in the gallery might be animated at certain moments; screens might descend to show examples of Parreno’s richly diverse video works. Often these actions are triggered by hidden environmental forces harnessed by Parreno as data to orchestrate his shows.

Throughout the works there is a consistent interest in constructions of reality, in fiction and science-fiction, the idea of the automaton and artificial intelligence, but always in relation to human movement and bodily presence within the exhibition space.

Collector's Eye

Hans Furer

The Basel-based collector tells us what he's bought and why
Exhibition preview

Pissarro: ‘hidden leader’ of Impressionism
reassessed at the Kunstmuseum Basel

This major exhibition comprises nearly 200 works by the multicultural artist who remained an outsider in Paris despite his central role in the movement

Book extract

The story behind Van Gogh's portrait of Doctor Gachet's daughter in the Kunstmuseum Basel

In this adapted extract from his new book Van Gogh’s Finale, Martin Bailey examines the portrait of Marguerite Gachet in the Kunstmuseum Basel

Book extract

What makes buyers want to create private museums for their collections?

WIn this adapted excerpt from her new book, The Rise and Rise of the Private Art Museum, Georgina Adam examines the motivations of collectors who founded their own art spaces